Patient Provider Education Project


Smith Center is developing culturally appropriate training for clinical providers of cancer care for African-American patients living with or at risk for breast cancer, residing in underserved communities in Washington, DC. The Patient-Provider Education Project (PPEP) engages healthcare providers with African-American breast cancer survivors to collectively develop solutions for improving care in these targeted communities. Utilizing dialogue and education, we will improve patient-provider communication, understanding and trust fostering more effective clinical health encounters. We will create provider behavior change that leads to an increase in breast cancer screening and treatment adherence rates. Training will address cultural competence challenges, communication skills, informed decision-making, cancer screening guidelines and available resources leading to improved overall patient outcomes. This will be achieved using a comprehensive three-phase model: 

a) Patient-Provider Dialogues – these facilitated sessions are loosely based on the successful Intersections International Veteran-Civilian Dialogues and are designed to promote in-depth communication in a safe non-medical setting

b) Solutions Workgroups – groups of patients and providers will convene to develop a consensus of issues and solutions driven by the thematic analyses of the Dialogue Circles. They will create a series of tools and techniques for implementation.

c) Training- will incorporate workgroup guidelines, screening guidelines and communications training. Training for patients will also include the importance of self-advocacy with provider training designed to also increase cultural competency.

Thank you to our sponsors for generously funding this project:

Cancer Retreat Zen Rocks

For over twenty years, our life-enhancing retreats for people with cancer have been at the heart of our work. Smith Center retreats offer a respite from everyday life with a cancer diagnosis and an opportunity to be fully immersed in healing. Our retreats are designed to empower participants to make life-affirming changes by offering tools, knowledge, and support in a safe and caring community of others facing a cancer diagnosis.

Stay tuned for updates on how we will adapt our Retreats in response to COVID-19.


Retreat Attendees

We welcome adults with any type of cancer, at any stage, wherever they are on their cancer journey, including remission. The three-day retreats appeal to individuals who seek a nurturing environment in which to explore their issues and choices in living with cancer, but who can’t spare significant time away from work, family or other obligations.

Spouses, significant others, and caregivers are also welcome to attend as participants.

Over the years, we have observed that Smith Center retreats are most beneficial for those who seek to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and who are receptive to the work of personal transformation.

Participants must be under the care of a physician, able to care for themselves and participate in the daily program, and well enough to devote two-and-a-half concentrated days to the program.

Retreat Attendees

Our retreats provide a safe, relaxed and nurturing environment that invites participants to experience the healing power of many integrative and complementary therapies along with offering a small-group support program of the highest quality.

Our Three-Day Retreats offer:

  • A respite from the stresses of daily life with a cancer diagnosis in a nurturing environment for mind, body, and spirit
  • An opportunity to learn about and personally explore choices in healing
  • Gentle, therapeutic yoga and other relaxation techniques
  • Delicious whole-foods, health-supportive meals and valuable information about the connection between diet and good health
  • Group sessions with a licensed psychotherapist
  • A creativity session offering another pathway to greater self-understanding
  • Skills and tools to support you in living with cancer
  • An opportunity to connect with others on a similar journey of healing

Cancer retreats provide a non-medical, educational, hands-on experience for participants. They are not a cancer therapy or treatment program.

We recognize that attending a retreat is an investment of your time. Smith Center has designed an application process that strives to ensure that each participant is well-prepared to enter the retreat and benefit from the experience.

The process entails completion of an application and a telephone conversation with the Retreat Director.

  • If you have been diagnosed with cancer and are interested in attending a retreat, please fill out this application.
  • If you are a caregiver or companion who would like to accompany a cancer survivor on a retreat, please fill out this application.

If you have any questions, encounter problems with the online applications or would like to request a paper application, please contact Carla at or by calling 202.483.8600.

Our intimate retreats are limited to 9 participants, so please apply as early as possible.

Cancer Retreat Stroll

Three-day retreats begin mid-morning on Friday and conclude mid-afternoon on Sunday.

Retreat schedules include gentle morning yoga, training in meditation and stress reduction, creativity workshops, group sessions, facilitated discussions about the practical and profound choices in healing, massage (optional), time to relax, have individual conversations with staff and participants, explore the natural beauty of our retreat setting and enjoy delicious, whole-foods meals.

Smith Center retreats are staffed by highly skilled, deeply committed professionals including a licensed psychotherapist, a yoga master, an oncology nursing specialist, a health-supportive chef, a creativity facilitator, integrative navigator and social worker. There is a one-to-one participant to staff ratio.

Dayspring Retreat Center

Our three-day retreats are held at Priest Field Pastoral Center, set on forty acres of wooded property along the Opequon Creek, in the Shenandoah Valley in Kearneysville, WV.

Driving directions to Priest Field

The cost for the three-day program is $950 per person including individual accommodations (private bedroom and bathroom) at the retreat center. All meals (two on Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday) are included.

Please note that participants’ fees cover just a portion of the cost to Smith Center to offer this retreat. The fee is generously supplemented by contributions from past participants and other friends who help us keep the price as reasonable as possible.

Spouses and other close support people are welcome to enroll at the same fee and with full participation in the retreat program.

We do have limited scholarship funds available, however, requests generally exceed our resources. In most cases, scholarship awards are offered in the amount of $250. Awards are made on a first come-first served basis. We encourage submittal of your application as early as possible.

To be considered for a scholarship, you must submit a completed retreat application and a separate scholarship application (included at the end of the online retreat application).

Once we receive your completed application, the Retreat Director will schedule a telephone conversation with you and we can discuss any individual scholarship needs at this time.

For more information
Call: 202.483.8600

“This [retreat] caused an unexplainable shift in my disease. I am so much more at peace…I cannot imagine this experience being better.”

Meet Our Facilitators

Ananda Leeke

Ananda Leeke

Ananda Leeke discovered mindfulness, self-care, and wellness when her career as a lawyer, an investment banker, and a digital communications professional stressed her out, caused burnout, and did not produce the level of success she expected. During Ananda’s healing journey, she studied and practiced meditation, yoga, reiki, journaling, art-making, and creative writing. They helped her develop self-care practices and become resilient. As a result, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, a reiki master practitioner, a sound healer, and an artist-in-residence for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

Today, she travels the world helping high achievers and mission-driven companies, organizations, and communities become resilient and thrive with mindfulness, self-care, wellness, and creativity as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a wellness company that specializes in personal and professional development. She leads the Thriving Mindfully Academy and hosts and produces the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio. In 2019, she was selected by lululemon to serve as a lululemon luminary, received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman in Professional Development – USA Award, and was named a Well-Being Warrior by the Well-Being and Equity Bridging Network.

Her books, Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir, are available on Amazon: She speaks at trainings, conferences, and events sponsored by AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Body Connect Health Wellness, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Community Associations Institute, Eaton DC, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, lululemon, Keela, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, National Association of Corporate Directors, Nonprofit Technology Network, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Spelman College, The Conference Board, and Wonder Women Tech Summit. In addition, she regularly shares her meditation, mindfulness, and social media expertise as a commentator on WHUR 96.3 FM. Learn more at

She is a proud alumna of Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University School of Law, Morgan State University, and Elizabeth Seton High School. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She lives in the historic U Street, NW neighborhood in Washington, DC.

Ann Ringenberg

Ann Ringenberg, RM/T

I am a reiki master and have been practicing reiki for over 12 years. I have provided reiki through volunteering at Thomas Circle Retirement Community, The Smith Center and was approved to start volunteering at INOVA Life with Cancer center prior to the COVID pandemic. I also volunteer at the Charles County Hospice Center. Reiki helps me to stay centered within myself and helps me to give others the gift of relaxation and a moment of peace.

Anne Kelemen

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW

Anne Kelemen joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center Section of Palliative care in 2014. In 2015, she was named MedStar Health Palliative Clinical of the Year. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care services at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, MD. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, she is actively involved in research, and is interested in the intersection of language and medicine as well as intimacy and chronic illness. She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a post-master’s certificate in End of Life Care from the Smith College School of Social Work. In 2017, she received the emerging leader award from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network (SWHPN). Ms. Kelemen is a SWHPN board member and passionate about teaching the next generation of palliative clinicians. She is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Director of the Palliative Social Work Fellowship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Anne Molofsky

Anne has always been interested in promoting health and wellness. She had a forty-year career as a nutritionist, beginning as a research nutritionist in several NIH-funded clinical trials, then working for the federal government in policy and education, and subsequently counselling clients in her private practice. She received her reiki training over 10 years ago and was able to offer reiki sessions to her nutrition clients as part of their treatment. Since 2013 Anne has also volunteered at Walter Reed offering reiki sessions to Wounded Warriors and their families. She became a Reiki Master Teacher in 2017. Anne is thrilled to be joining the wonderful Energy Balancing Team at the Smith Center!

Beth Lawrence

Beth Lawrence, RYT500

Beth discovered yoga in early 2002 as a mother of six-month-old twins. She was looking to get back into shape after their birth. In yoga, she found far more than she anticipated- an age-old practice designed to help people relieve stress- both mental and physical. After a few years of regular practice, she knew she wanted to share her positive experiences with others. She has been leading yoga classes in the DC area since 2007 after completing her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Nth Degree Yoga with Martha Rosen. In 2011, she went back to earn her RYT500. Her personal practice is inspired by Integral Yoga and Sivananda Yoga, both of which incorporate body and mind into the practice.

Bonnie Vermillion

Bonnie Vermillion

I am a Cancer survivor/thriver since 1998 and have had lymphedema since 2002. I initially had so much trouble finding information on lymphedema that I went online and found an exercise program that was developed to maintain lymphedema. I became an instructor, then trainer, and finally acquired the program in 2014. I currently teach classes in central Virginia. I’m also a regional coordinator for Chronic Disease Self Management workshops, so I actively work with small groups of participants for them to self-manage their chronic conditions. I am also a volunteer Ombudsman with the local Agency on Aging and a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association as a support group facilitator and speaker.

Brandel France de Bravo

Brandel France de Bravo

Brandel France de Bravo holds a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University and is a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. She has two decades of experience researching and designing health interventions in the U.S. and abroad. She has run an HIV prevention program in Africa, designed harm reduction strategies for intravenous drug users in Central Asia, and developed materials to help cancer patients in the U.S. make informed decisions about their treatment. She is co-author of a parenting book influenced by the RIE philosophy of infant-toddler care and is a published poet and essayist. She studied Compassion Cultivation Training with founding faculty while a fellow at Stanford University and is honored to be a certified teacher of CCT.

Candida DeLuise

Candida DeLuise, LICSW

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy – Reiki, Energy work, Buddhist Psychology

As a contemplative psychotherapist with over 25 years of experience, Candida integrates mindfulness and psycho-spiritual approaches into the therapy process. She has worked with clients on transitions, relationships, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness and aging issues. Creating a safe and nurturing space, she draws on mind-body awareness and Buddhist psychology. Candida is also a Reiki practitioner and life celebrant, crafting rituals to honor significant events. She is licensed in D.C. to officiate weddings and loves working with couples to create a custom ceremony that highlights their unique relationship. An experienced coach, consultant and Buddhist practitioner, Candida teaches meditation and leads workshops on mindfulness in everyday life. She works with artists in the creative process, and with individuals and groups committed to social change. She believes that as we reconnect to our inherent wisdom, we empower ourselves to live a more full and expansive life. 240-462-9550.

Capital Nature

Capital Nature

Capital Nature is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing nature into the lives of Washington Metro area residents and visitors. We are a fiscal 501c3 project of Green Spaces for DC.

We believe people are healthier, and our communities more resilient when nature is part of our lives. We envision a Washington DC region where a culture of nature engagement and stewardship thrives—where daily contact with the natural world supports human wellbeing  and ecological health across our communities.

Capital Nature provides information on the region’s many available, but not always known, nature events: from forest walks to citizen science adventures to educational workshops and stewardship projects. We collaborate with partners and friends to create new opportunities for nature engagement, and invite all to share their stories of experience with the natural world.

Through Capital Nature’s Biophilic Practice Group, we develop nature-based designs and strategies for wellbeing and community health.

Carole O'Toole

Carole O’Toole

Smith Center’s Spiritual Companion, Carole O’Toole, was called to companion others following her cancer experience that led her to explore how illness offers opportunities for spiritual growth. Since 2006 Carole has served in many roles at Smith Center, including Director of Residential Retreats, Director of the Institute of Integrative Oncology Navigation, Director of Smith Center’s Integrative Navigation Training Program, and as a member of and mentor for our integrative navigation team. Carole is currently receiving professional training in Spiritual Direction through The Haden Institute, with a particular focus on grief and loss and the spiritual challenges of living with cancer.

Carole invites you to explore with her how to make meaning of your cancer experience and to look for where the holy is in your life. Currently, limited space is available for new clients. Individual appointments are available via Zoom or by telephone and are free of charge.

Cathrine Nelson, RYT200

Cathrine is a 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher. Further training in Yoga for trauma has led her to offer Yoga and Yoga Nidra to patients with PTSD and cancer in a hospital setting. Daily she sees how the power of Yoga Nidra brings peace and tranquility to herself and to others.

Chef Cathryn Pethick

Chef Cathryn Pethick, AYS

Cathryn Pethick, AA, AYS, C-IAYT is a certified yoga therapist and teacher, Ayurveda specialist, and professional chef- whole foods cooking and nutrition instructor. She shares those skills with private clients through her own Well-Being, founded in 2012, and is on staff with Maryland University of Integrative Health’s Masters in Nutrition degree program. At Smith Center, Cathryn teaches cooking and nutrition classes, gentle yoga, and contributes to Smith Center’s wonderful  integrative cancer support retreats as chef and yoga therapist. She has decades of experience in diverse culinary settings, practicing/teaching yoga from a therapeutic perspective, meditation, and the study of Ayurveda, diverse spiritual  and philosophical traditions, and Oriental healing/martial arts. Cathryn shares the intention of nourishing well-being for us individually and as a collective with yoga, meditation and food-as-medicine, by cultivating the healing power of balance, optimal nutrition that supports our vitality, and compassionate presence that nurtures us all.

Charity Sade

Charity Sade

Charity Sade is an up and coming comedian from Indiana, but has resided in Washington, D.C. for the last 8 years.

She has performed across the country, and won a new comic competition at Greenwich Village Comedy Club. Within her first year of comedy, Charity made her festival debut at the 2018 DC Comedy Festival as well as the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival.

She has always used humor to get through difficult moments in her life, including her breast cancer diagnosis at age 27. On stage, she takes her difficult life experiences and turns them into relatable, humorous tales. Her comedic superpower is her ability to make you simultaneously laugh and cringe.

Charity is the creator and founder of Comedic Relief: Coping Through Comedy. You can catch Charity hosting, producing, and performing on shows across the DMV.

Cheryl Hughes

Cheryl Hughes, LICSW, OSW-C

Cheryl Ann Hughes, LICSW, is a Palliative Care Social Worker at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. She creates a safe and supportive environment from which individuals can define their goals, as well as the means by which they can be achieved. Cheryl tailors each treatment plan using a variety of modalities including EMDR, strengths-based and solution-focused techniques, and with recognition of– and a deep respect for — the strong connection between mind and body. Cheryl infuses her work with mindfulness-based techniques to assist her clients in recognizing their own ability to create a reality that will lead to a satisfying and fulfilling life. Cheryl received her master’s degree in social work, with an emphasis on clinical and medical social work, from Catholic University. She works with cancer patients and their families as they deal with the increased stressors caused by cancer and its treatment.

Connie Custer, RM/T

Connie has practiced Reiki since 1998, and received her Reiki Master/Teacher credentials from GW Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine. She has been a Reiki volunteer at Life With Cancer and Capital Caring Hospice, and has a certificate in animal Reiki. As part of her energy work, she also practices qigong, and is certified to teach walking qigong.

Deirdre Orceyre

Deirdre Orceyre, ND, MSOM, L.Ac.

Dr. Deirdre Orceyre is a Naturopathic Physician and Acupuncturist with over 10 years in clinical practice in Washington DC. She specializes in integrative oncology, thyroid, adrenal, women’s health (and more) using diet, naturopathic lifestyle and supplement recommendations.

Dr. Deirdre Orceyre, ND, MSOM, L.Ac., is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine, a leading institution in natural health education in the U.S. In 2004, she graduated cum laude with a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine. Following her medical training, Dr. Orceyre participated for two years in a full-time residency program focusing on internal naturopathic medicine, with special rotations in women’s health, endocrinology and integrative cancer care. Dr. Orceyre has undergone extensive national examinations and is a board certified licensed naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in the District of Columbia.

Dr. Orceyre currently sees patients at GWCIM on Monday afternoons, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. In addition, twice a month she works at the GW Breast Center. She offers both naturopathic office visits and acupuncture for her patients. She welcomes patients with all conditions, with the goal to work with the patients to determine the causes of their imbalance. Dr. Orceyre sees herself as a guide and a coach, with the patient being the true healer. She uses many treatment modalities, such as nutrition and lifestyle modifications, nutritional supplementation, Western and Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture, flower essences, homeopathy, qigong healing and craniosacral therapies.

Denise Feldman

Denise Feldman is a local mixed media artist who discovered the power of creativity as a healing practice after her treatment for breast cancer in 2014. As a creative ‘dabbler’ who loves working with various materials and surfaces, Denise shares her altered book processes and soulful perspective with the hope of inspiring others to tell their stories ‘on the page’ and clear space for life’s chapters yet to come.

Erin Price

Erin Price, LICSW

Erin serves as Smith Center’s Director of Young Adult and Psychosocial Support Programs. She is trained in Integrative Patient Navigation, a Project LEAD graduate, and holds a Masters in Social Work. A seven-year breast cancer survivor, Erin is passionate about providing support and community to other cancer survivors, especially young adults. She works with Smith Center’s DC Young Adult Cancer Community and is also actively involved in the cancer community through the Young Survival Coalition, Critical Mass, the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates, National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the DC Cancer Action Partnership.

Harpreet Gujral

Harpreet Gujral, DNP, FNP-BC

Harpreet Gujral DNP, FNP-BC is both a clinician and healthcare administrator who brings three decades of experience in various clinical areas. She helped with the launch of Johns Hopkins Sibley Integrative Medicine (SIM), both as the Program Director and Nurse Practitioner. She currently co-leads this program by directing and managing day-to-day operations of SIM and provides integrative medicine consultations. She is a Family Nurse practitioner and most recently served as Program Director and Nurse Practitioner at the Sibley Weight Loss Surgery department. She helped create and lead a successful multidisciplinary medical weight-loss program at a community hospital. Additionally, she has served as Senior Practice Advisor at the American Nurses Association.

She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree focusing on Integrative Health and Healing track at University of Minnesota under mentorship of Dr. Mary Jo Kreitzer. She has a deep interest and is well informed in modalities like Aromatherapy, Guided Imagery, including various Eastern modalities such as Ayurveda, Mindfulness, and Meditation that are enhanced by her roots in India. She deeply believes in one’s inner capacity to heal. Additionally, she has also completed the Integrative Nurse Coach certificate program with Dr. Barbara Dossey and Susan Luck. She is currently enrolled in the 2-year Meditation Teacher Training with Drs. Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.

Her interests include mindful eating, self-compassion, healthy cooking, mindful pausing, health coaching that brings together various aspects of integrative health. She enjoys uplifting and nurturing her colleagues using mindful pause, appreciation Qi Gong and the practice of gratitude. She loves to walk in nature with her family and friends, engage in music and poetry.

Jennifer Bires

Jennifer Bires, LICSW

Jennifer Bires is a licensed clinical social worker, who works with people affected by cancer. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Jennifer knows how distressing a cancer diagnosis can be for patients and their families. Her goal as an oncology social worker is to help patients and family members adjust to the emotional impact of a diagnosis. Jennifer specializes in working with young adults, caregivers and patients who have advanced disease. She strives to help patients and families maintain a high quality of life in the face of their illness.

John Casey

John Casey

John Casey works as a barber in Brooklyn, NY. This trade affords him the opportunity to meet and talk with many different people on a daily basis. Learning that many of his customers shared his interest in keeping a journal but didn’t know how to start or to maintain one, he decided to create a workshop that would allow him to share what he’d learned about this rewarding practice.

In his free time, John loves being in his car and is grateful for any opportunity he gets to drive through to the Hudson Valley where he grew up. He has a BFA in Painting and enjoys drawing, painting and visiting art museums. His favorite conversation topics are music, film and anything pertaining to behavioral psychology.

Jonathan Gilbert

Jonathan Gilbert, L.Ac., NCCAOM

Mr. Gilbert’s journey into Asian philosophy began with martial arts at the age of 9. By 13 he began training in movement and meditation at the Kitaido School of Movement in England, under the guidance of Head Instructor Ken Waight. From the ages of 16-18 Jonathan also studied Shiatsu massage, a Japanese form of healing, and earned his diploma from the British School of Oriental Therapy and Movement in 1988.

In 1991, Jonathan Gilbert enrolled at the London Academy of Oriental Medicine London (LAOM), England, one of the foremost schools of Oriental Medicine in Europe. Graduating from the Vietnamese school in 1995, Mr. Gilbert pursued a masters study in “Stems and Branches Theory” with world-renowned Professor Truong Thin, the Director of Traditional Medicine for South Vietnam. Jonathan lived in Vietnam while completing his post-graduate training at The Traditional Medical Institute (TMI), a 500-bed state teaching hospital Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. At TMI, Jonathan worked in collaboration with Western-trained medical doctors, observing the blending of Oriental Medicine with Western medicine.

Jonathan’s first private practice as an Oriental Medicine physician began in London in 1996. In 1998, he moved to the United States and eventually set up practices in Towson, MD, and Arlington, VA. Board-certified in the U.S. in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), Mr. Gilbert has served as the Senior Consultant of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Jonathan’s passion for creating an integrated medical clinic came to fruition in 2005, with the opening of The Gilbert Clinic in the Bethesda area, near Washington, D.C. The clinic blended Western Medicine with TCM and psychotherapy by using traditional Asian medical principles. For 5 years this model proved incredibly powerful in the treatment of chronic illness.

Since 2011, The Gilbert Clinic’s focus has been dedicated to providing excellent traditional Vietnamese / Chinese herbology and acupuncture, Jonathan’s Gilbert’s expertise and passion.

Julia Rowland Senior Strategic Advisor

Julia Rowland, Ph.D.

Julia Rowland, PhD, who joined Smith Center in October 2017, comes to this position as a long-time clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of psychosocial aspects of cancer. She has worked with and conducted competitively funded research among both pediatric and adult cancer survivors and their families, and published broadly in psycho-oncology, including co-editing, along with Dr. Jimmie Holland, the ground-breaking text, Handbook of Psychooncology.  She has also been a frequent speaker on cancer survivorship, or life after cancer, for both professional and lay audiences.

Julia received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in psychosocial oncology. While at MSKCC, where she held joint appointments in pediatrics and neurology, Julia helped to develop and was the first Director of the Post-Treatment Resource Program, one of the first non-medical survivorship care programs to be offered by a major cancer center in the U.S. In 1990 she moved with her husband and two young children to Washington, DC to become founding Director of the Psycho-Oncology Program at Georgetown University and the Lombardi Cancer Center. There she helped expand services to meet the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and families, launched some of the first quality of life clinical trials, and also introduced a program to enable first-year medical students to learn the art of caring for those living through and beyond cancer from survivors themselves and Lombardi faculty. Nine years later, in September of 1999, she was recruited to the National Cancer Institute to become the first, full-time Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, a position in which she served for 18 years, championing the growth of survivorship research and care, before stepping down in September 2017 to assume her new role at Smith Center. Although new to the team, Julia is no stranger to Smith Center. She knew Smith Center’s founder, Barbara Smith Coleman, and has volunteered her expertise across the years as a speaker, group leader and staff member for both the 1-day and weeklong residential retreats. Julia brings to her new role a passion to translate what research has taught us about healing in the context of cancer to the broader community, in essence, taking the science of survivorship from the lab bench to the park bench.

Julie McCarter

Julie McCarter

Julie is a fine art photographer and therapist, offering workshops that blend her two worlds of creative expression and emotional wellness. She is based in the Greater Washington DC area. Her photographic work may be viewed at:

Contact email:

Kara Elam

Kara Elam

Kara Elam, PhD, MPH, MS, is a scientist and avid adventurer I approached starting a family and conceiving our first as I did with everything else: research, data analysis, and meticulous planning. Unfortunately, this approach was not successful and the journey to our desired family became much longer than anticipated. I have embraced this unforeseen adventure in fertility for the lessons and knowledge it has brought into our life. I look forward to sharing this knowledge as well as creating a space for fellowship and support with all of you joining this healing circle. Love, trust, and baby dust.

Kara Garrett

Chef Kara Garrett

Kara Garrett is a health-supportive chef based in Washington, DC. Following her breast cancer diagnosis in 2013, she embraced the challenge of finding a balance between her foodie lifestyle and eating well with cancer. She has adopted a flexible diet plan that focuses on plant-based, sustainable whole foods, but does not restrict indulgences of things she loves. She is passionate about working with others to encourage healthier food choices that energize the body and the soul. Kara graduated in August 2017 from the Chef Training Program at Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and spent one month as the sous chef at The Ananda Ashram Yoga Society of New York in Monroe, NY. She is currently enrolled in the Developing Healthy Communities: Nutrition, Behavior, and Physical Activity graduate program at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Kevin Mutschler

Kevin Mutschler

Kevin is a board-certified acupuncturist (NCCAOM) and Qigong educator with over twenty-five years experience in healing arts practice, research and education, including work in medical anthropology, somatic therapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Kevin has special interests in working with patients living with chronic illness, migraine, MS and cancer. He is a Smith Center fellow in Integrative Cancer Care Navigation and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology.

Kiersten Gallagher – Cancer Support Programs Director

Kiersten Gallagher

Kiersten has served as the Cancer Support Program Director for Smith Center since 2014. Before coming to Smith Center, she had the privilege to serve individuals and families living with cancer at Wellness House of Annapolis. Kiersten aims to offer programs to reduce stress and help participants to see the world we live in from different perspectives. She thoroughly enjoys teaching yoga and creativity classes at Smith Center and encourages gentle movement and creativity in the healing process. Kiersten is a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance and also has her YCAT (Yoga Therapy in Cancer and Chronic Illness) Professional Certification through the Integral Yoga Academy. She has completed Patient Navigation training through Smith Center’s Institute for Integrative Oncology Navigation and has also completed the Commonweal Healing Circles: Advanced Cancer Support Training. Kiersten is also certified in CLIMB® (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) a program that aims to build upon the strengths of children and increase his/her ability to cope with stress associated with a parent’s illness. She believes in a holistic approach to healing, human relationships and is grateful for each and every day. In her spare time, you may find Kiersten laughing with friends, cycling, taking art classes, practicing yoga and spending time with her husband Shane, son Liam, and dogs Hooper and Pablo.

Kunle Adewale

Kunle Adewale

Kunle Adewale is an artist and a development practitioner by profession. He is a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts (Painting and Art History), from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. To hone his skills in leadership, he studied Civic Leadership at Tulane University, New Orleans. His penchant for utilizing arts within the healthcare system spurred him into participating in related professional courses such as: Arts in Health for Helping Professionals in Charlotte; Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, United States, and Arts in Health Research Intensive, organised by Center for Arts in Medicine, University of Florida in collaboration with University College London.

Kunle did not stop there. In his quest for more knowledge in the field of Arts in Medicine, he also bagged certificates in: Understanding Dementia and Arts, from University College London (UCL) and, Medicine and The Arts: Humanising Healthcare, from University of Capetown, South Africa. He was one of the selected Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Currently, he is part of a 1-year training programme on Dementia. To reduce the scale and impact of dementia, the 1-year programme brings together a powerful mix of perspectives, approaches, and skill sets from varying backgrounds and disciplines, including neurologists, social scientists, artists, and policymakers.

Laura Pole

Chefnurcian Laura Pole, RN, MSN

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, comes with a diverse educational background including a Master’s degree in nursing, chef certification, and professional music training. For over 20 years, she has been merging her careers as a health supportive chef, professional musician, oncology clinical nurse specialist, and a palliative care educator. Laura serves Smith Center in several ways: Director of Nourishment Education Programs, Director of Professional Trainings in Culinary Translation and Co-Creator/Coordinator of Patient Navigation Trainings. Laura is also the Senior Researcher for the Commonweal program, Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, a free website to help you with choices in integrative cancer care.

Lauren Broschak

Lauren Broschak, MSW, LICSW, OSW-C

Lauren is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in DC and Virginia. She has both her Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in Social Work, and has been working in oncology for just over three years. She developed her passion for oncology in Michigan where she worked at Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit supporting those touched by cancer. Since moving to the Metro DC Area she has worked at the GW Cancer Center in Washington, DC and is now an Oncology Clinical Therapist at Life with Cancer in Virginia. Lauren is particularly interested in providing support to the young adult community, and has presented at the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) national conference twice regarding young adults. Most recently, she became the Co-Chair of the Adolescent and Young Adult Special Interest Group at AOSW.

Lisa Hahn

Lisa Hahn

Lisa Hahn was diagnosed with MBC de novo in the Fall of 2019. In addition to working full-time and attending doctor appointments, she is always looking for a new exercise class and tries to maintain a consistent yoga and pilates practice. Her background in the arts as a former ballet dancer and arts council program officer have given her a strong appreciation for the arts and she is a regular attendee at the Smith Center. She lives in Alexandria with her husband, two teenage boys and two cats and you can follow her on Instagram @dancingwithmbc

Liz Lescault

Liz Lescault, a visual artist and sculptor, has practiced and taught art for over 40 years. Liz is Coordinator of the DC InterPlay Metro Region and is a member of the DC InterPlay Board. Liz leads Open Gathering days for InterPlay DC and organizes and leads workshops regionally and nationally.

Liz melds her art, teaching and personal philosophy with InterPlay wisdom, tools and forms.

Formerly, Liz, was a hotline crisis counselor, for various suicide prevention lifelines and The Trevor Project providing help for LGBTQ youth in crisis.

Liz also led InterPlay for elders with chronic illness and cognitive disabilities at Iona Senior Center up to the Covid shutdown and is looking forward to leading online programs for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. 

Contemporary Ceramic Art by Liz Lescault

Maude Fish

Maude Fish has performed classical music throughout the DC Metro area since she moved to Washington in 1988. Currently, she plays regularly with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, the Virginia Chamber Orchestra, The Arlington Philharmonic, and the Tysons-McLean Orchestra. In prior years, she has worked with orchestras as distant as Roanoke, VA, and St. Mary’s, MD. She teaches piano and bassoon privately from her home in Chevy Chase, DC. She is no stranger to Smith Center having participated in a day-long writers’ retreat and yoga classes when she finished active treatment for breast cancer in 2004. Additionally, her chamber group performed at Smith Center at a gallery opening for the Alchemical Vessels Exhibit. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, cooking, knitting, and writing. She is married with two adult children, her dog Otto, and Cookie the Cockatiel.

Miles Braun

Miles Braun, MD, MPH

Miles Braun, MD, MPH is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also Director of the Adolescent & Young Adult Integrative Oncology Initiative at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. He served for 20 years in the US Public Health Service at CDC, NIH and FDA, including for more than eight years as a Division Director at FDA. He has more than 100 scientific-medical publications, including many in leading journals and some that affected medical practice in the US and beyond. He also has served in senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry.

Mindy Brodsky

Mindy Brodsky, LCSWA

Mindy Brodsky specializes in trauma-informed, strengths-based counseling with a passion for integrative health and healing. Mindy honors her clients as the experts of their lives, and she strives to provide a supportive and safe environment.

After a career in social justice advocacy and her own challenging health journey, Mindy aspires to meet her clients where they are to help them achieve their goals.

Niya Kight

Niya Kight

Niya Kight was diagnosed with Stage II, ER/PR + Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in November 2019 on her 31st birthday, while 12 weeks pregnant. Once Niya reached the middle of her second trimester, she underwent a mastectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy before delivering her daughter in May. Niya is currently finishing the last four rounds of chemotherapy and next up on the road to recovery is radiation. When Niya embarked upon this journey, she chose to view it as her rebirth and shared that “she would rise healthier and stronger than ever after this spiritual transformation”. Niya has done just that as she focused inwardly to determine the changes she needed to make in her life, learned to accept help, and shared her vulnerability and experience with others. Niya is passionate about raising awareness about pregnancy and breast cancer because many people do not know that it is possible to have cancer while pregnant, let alone that it can actually be treated during pregnancy. Niya remembers the loneliness she felt while navigating breast cancer while pregnant and wants to help eliminate that additional stress for other women.

Nueva Vida

Nueva Vida is an independent nonprofit that provides free, comprehensive, culturally competent cancer services to medically underserved Latino families in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia (as far south as Prince William County), Suburban Maryland (Montgomery & Prince George’s Counties), Richmond, and Baltimore. Other services include outreach to the Latino community and Patient Navigation for cancer screenings and treatment.

Rachel Ress

Rachel Ress, LGSW

Rachel is a Licensed Social Worker in Washington, DC. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice where she interned at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Rachel joined the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in 2018. Rachel uses an eclectic approach in providing support and compassion to cancer patients and their families. Her clinical work focuses primarily on the care of patients diagnosed with breast, brain, and lung cancers, and she is passionate about the intersection of chronic illness and mental health.

Rebecca Wilkinson

Rebecca Wilkinson

Rebecca is a Registered and Board-Certified art therapist with twenty years of experience in mental health and in facilitating training and workshops. She serves as adjunct faculty at George Washington University Graduate Art Therapy Program and provides continuing education and development through the Potomac Art Therapy Association. She facilitates supportive workshops for those affected by life-threatening illness and the professional providers working with them. She is a co-founder of Creative Wellbeing Workshops, LLC, which provides training, consultation, and clinical therapy designed to reduce stress, prevent burnout and increase life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Rick Black

Rick Black

A poet, book artist and photographer, Rick Black is the founder and owner of Turtle Light Press, a small publishing company that specializes in handcrafted books, fine art prints and note cards.

In recent years, Rick has won several awards for his own poetry as well as books that he has published. He has given readings at the Library of Congress and elsewhere around the country. He often takes bike rides in the region and can be spotted taking photographs in and around Arlington, Falls Church, and Washington, D.C.

As he has gotten to know the area, he has begun turning his digital photos into artistic paintings – luminous, colorful and playful. His images have been selected to adorn the rooms of the Hilton Garden Inn in Falls Church. He has exhibited widely in the mid-Atlantic region and his work can be found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

For close to twenty years, he worked as a journalist, including a three-year stint in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times. He also has freelanced for numerous national newspapers and magazines, including The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

To see more of Rick’s books or his artistic photographs, please visit his website:

Ryoko Julia

Ryoko was born and raised in Japan. She studied economics and business management and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for about 25 years in Asia-pacific and the US. She started learning traditional Japanese Reiki in 2005 in Japan and became a master in 2012. As she deepens her understanding of Reiki, she decided to leave the corporate world and focus on deepening and teaching the core Reiki philosophy to more people. She has actively been involved in volunteering at Walter Reed and Shady Grove Medical Center for about nine years. Ryoko is also trained in clinical aromatherapy.

Sara Field

Sara Field, MSW, LICSW

Sara is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in DC. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the Catholic University of America in DC and has worked in oncology for over 3 years.  Sara interned at the Lombardi Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute during graduate school, which confirmed her interest in oncology social work. She joined the Lombardi Cancer Center in 2016 and now works at the GW Cancer Center in DC. Sara has a strong interest in the intersection of emotional and physical health and a particular passion for supporting parents with cancer and their kids. She enjoys partnering with Camp Kesem’s GW chapter and served as their mental health professional for the past two years.

Susi Wyss

Susi Wyss

Susi Wyss is a public health professional, author, therapeutic writing facilitator and—most of all—a believer in the healing power of words. Her public health career has spanned more than 25 years, most of it addressing women’s health in Africa. She is the author of The Civilized World, a novel set in Africa that was named “A Book to Pick Up Now” by Oprah Magazine. In addition to her collaboration with the Smith Center, she has led writing-for-healing workshops at the DC Rape Crisis Center and at Crossings Healing & Wellness in Silver Spring.

Sylvia Sturm

Sylvia Sturm, EEM-CLP, RM/T

Sylvia Sturm, EEM-CLP, RM/T, heads our Energy Balancing volunteer team. Sylvia is a Certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner and a Reiki Master Teacher. For many years she has managed a Reiki Volunteer group at a seniors’ residence and has served for 6 years as a Reiki volunteer in GWU Hospital. She is delighted to now work with a dedicated and wonderful team to address the balancing of one’s subtle energies in order to allow the body to completely relax. She has an independent practice in Kensington, MD. To learn more about Sylvia and subtle energies, please visit her website

Theresa Walker

Theresa is a registered SoulCollage® facilitator and has led groups since 2011. She is a certified expressive arts facilitator, trained at Salve Regina University in writing and visual arts, and she is a graduate of Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups program. She finds that SoulCollage®, especially in a Group setting, offers participants a unique experience of playfulness, insight, and creativity.

Tina Lassiter

Tina Scott Lassiter

Tina Scott Lassiter is an integrative healthcare professional/artist/author who infuses mindfulness/mind body practices with the arts to create workshops, retreats, and individualized sessions that help people live life more, live life well©, live better together through respectful coexistence, and live life anew via self-care. Creative & Therapeutic Arts Director at Children’s National in Washington, DC for 15 years, she developed then was invited to present the model “Caring for Caregivers in Medical Setting” at several Decision Health conferences which led to conducting a webinar for Ernest Health, followed by a feature interview for Joint Commission newsletter.  Tina has been creating and facilitating workshops for over 20 years; is certified in several mind body practices; is a Corporate Presenter for a mindfulness studio facilitating mindfulness meditation, yoga nidra, and other sessions; served as Adjunct faculty, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts; and her artwork/photographs have been featured in national publications. One of her personal mindful/art practices is featured on the online version of Spirituality & Health magazine ( She completed the Arts in Medicine Intensive at the University of Florida Center for the Arts in Healthcare Research & Education, holds an MBA in Marketing from NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a BA in Communications with a minor in Social Work from Howard University.

Visit her artwork at; her words of inspiration can be found at Follow her on Instagram @myeclecticeye.

Yael Flusberg

Yael Flusberg, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, RMT, MS

Yael Flusberg first came to yoga hoping she could get rid of stuff, namely the ways life’s stresses and traumas had become painfully embodied. Fifteen years and thousands of layers of release later, yoga continues to teach her how to make strategic, creative, and life-nourishing choices. Trained as an integrative yoga therapist, Yael’s classes blend active with receptive states of being, and are both insightful and lighthearted. Off the mat, she is a coach, writer and energy therapist. Since 2005, Yael has taught yoga classes at area hospitals, libraries, workplaces, schools, and yoga studios. As an integrative yoga therapist (E-RYT500) she facilitates both group and individual yoga therapy sessions, working with people dealing with a variety of conditions including cancer, digestive disorders, diabetes, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, hypertension, mental health challenges (including depression, anxiety, grief and trauma), rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis, and sports injuries. She currently teaches a weekly therapeutic class for people living with cancer and their caregivers on GW’s campus. More info:

Wendy Miller, Ph.D.

Wendy Miller, Ph.D.

Moving here many years ago from the SF Bay Area, my relationship with Commonweal led me to Barbara Smith Coleman. I am proud to have been part of an early group of people with Shanti Norris who met with Barbara to envision the cancer retreats, a healing center, and gallery for Smith Center. Years later when my late husband Gene Cohen was facing metastatic prostate cancer, he went to Commonweal for his cancer retreat. The gift of community support, reflection, and care guided the choices we made through the many years of living with cancer in our family body. I became a widow in 2009.

Wendy Miller is an expressive arts therapist, artist, and writer living in Kensington, MD. In 2016, she published the book, Sky Above Clouds: Finding our way through creativity, aging, and illness, about her life and work with her late husband. It is a spiritual treatise on love and creativity during life’s major transitions.

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